Are racial differences in IQ explained by cultural stereotypes?

Has anyone noticed the irony that most of the people who argue that there are no inherent differences in intelligence between the races are left-wing Jews, who use their high intelligence to argue that everyone has the same intelligence?

That thought came to me after I replied to the below e-mail from a reader in France. He wrote:

I keep on reading you from time to time. I do not share your ideas and perspective but there is undoubtedly a real thought that strives to grasp her environment and your analyses are often subtle. However, I wonder how you can intellectually deal with some fascinating work as the ones of Joshua Aronson. I do not think your insistence on the “Bell Curve thesis” can honestly been maintained when faced with the experiences he has led.

The link took me to a page which had a video of a lecture, which I haven’t watched yet, and this text introduction:

Joshua Aronson, an associate professor of applied psychology at New York University, talks about the impact of stereotypes on how we perform on a day-to-day basis and on tests, and on how we learn. Introduced by Dean of Arts and Sciences Virginia Sapiro, he discusses the implications of experiencing stereotype threat, which, although generally referring in the United States to blacks and Latinos and to women, can include any ethnic group and even such things as age. In other words, everyone is vulnerable to stereotype threat, and he gives as an example “the feeling that you are dumb in math because you are a woman.” He suggests ways that we can better nurture intelligence. Aronson says studies show that the test score gap between young black and white children is very small, but widens as they spend more time in school, “undergoing the intervention designed to help them get smarter.” He warns of increasing rates of high school dropouts: 30 percent of students in the United States drop out of school; that increases to 50 percent for blacks and Latinos.

I replied to the reader:

You can’t be serious! The idea that cultural stereotypes are the cause of minorities’ lower performance on tests is one of the weakest arguments against intelligence differences there is. There are thousands of IQ tests—and other tests that correlate highly with IQ such as SATs—that have been given for many decades in every country on earth, showing the same differences, and you think this is because blacks and browns are “hung up” by the cultural stereotype that they’re not good test takers?

This argument has been dealt with at length in the literature. For example, Arthur Jensen points out how in a test in which the person is asked to repeat a sequence of numbers he just heard, blacks do almost as well as whites. But when the person is asked to repeat the sequence of numbers in reverse order, blacks do significantly worse than whites.

Now, according to the “cultural stereotype” theory of IQ testing differences, blacks had no problem with cultural stereotypes on the first question and did about as well as whites. But when they were asked the second question, suddenly “cultural stereotype fear” set in and they did significantly worse than whites. Does that sound plausible to you?

Obviously the real reason for the difference is that the second question, in which the testee is asked to repeat the numerical sequence in reverse order, requires significantly more general intelligence. That’s why blacks perform more poorly on it. On a question requiring little g, blacks do almost as well as whites. On a question requiring much more g, blacks do much worse than whites.

And this is also why the difference between the races increases with age. It’s obvious when you think about it. Small children aren’t that intelligent. At age four, the full difference between a smart child and an average child hasn’t appeared. But as the children get older and develop their capacities, and as the tasks facing the children get more difficult, the child with the 120 IQ will manifest its intelligence more and more, leaving behind the child with 90 IQ.

When Einstein was one year old, he would not have appeared any more intelligent than a one year old with average intelligence. By age 20, the difference would be very great.

Arthur Jensen discussed intelligence testing in a very interesting two-part interview in American Renaissance in 1992, here and here.

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R. Davis writes:

The fact that left-wing Jews “use their high intelligence to argue that everyone has the same intelligence” raises two questions: 1. Are they doing so simply for cultural/political reasons, i.e., to subvert the majority non-Jewish culture by undermining its ethnic-racial foundations, while subtly affirming a Jewish intellectual superiority? or 2. Does their superior intelligence afford them insights the rest of us aren’t capable of? Given their own ethnic/racial makeup, they would seem to be the best refutation of their own thesis, but perhaps at that intellectual elevation the forest is a bit far off.

This question does touch on a facet of racialist politics (highlighted by the Wright affair) that no one dares discuss—namely, if in fact intellectual differences do exist between blacks and whites/Asians, whether genetically or culturally induced (what does it matter?), why should those at the low end of the bell curve be granted almost exclusive control over the national dialogue on race or on any other issue? Look where that is taking us. Rev. Wright is not an iconoclast. The majority of blacks believe the US government is using AIDS genocidally against them. Our schools dumb down deliberately to accommodate racial differences (which dare not be mentioned). On the other hand, those at the high end of the intellectual spectrum have done much to mire us in this racial quagmire. How does one make sense of this?

LA replies:

There’s truth to this. The people at the high end ally with the people at the low end to destroy the vast silent majority in the middle—the actual society.

What I’ve just described (and this goes beyond the question of the specifically Jewish role, though it includes it) in fact represents the essential structure of liberalism as it actually operates in society. Liberalism requires three groups in order to function. First, there is the liberal elite itself, the people who make liberalism happen. They demonstrate liberalism by preaching and practicing non-discrimination toward the Other, the minority, the less capable. Second, there are the Other and the less capable, upon whom the liberal elite practices its liberal virtue of non-discrimination. Without the Other, toward whom one practices non-discrimination, liberalism would die. Therefore liberalism requires an ever-renewed population of non-assimilated and unassimilable people. But a third group is also needed for liberalism to function, and that is the vast unenlightened majority whose backward morality is needed as a foil against which the elite demonstrates its morality and establishes its legitimacy and right to rule.

KPA writes from Canada:

What about high-level IQ blacks exploiting low-level IQ blacks and whites to set their political agendas? They must know and understand these differences.

In the video Internet copies of Obama’s appearance on The View this week, I caught him twice using the determiner “some” when discussing Wright’s infamous sermons. This looks like a new trick.

From the top video:

Around 3:34-3:39 “I never heard him say some of those things….”

Around 8:32-8:36 “I didn’t see some of the things that were said that I would have taken offense to.”

The “Republican” questioner, Elizabeth Hasselbeck fell for this, and missed it completely. (I caught it the first time around). To be fair to her, it was a clever move, disguised in a negative, and grammatically confusing.

Obviously, Obama has a relatively high IQ. He and his type, for generations, are the ones who have sold out their people to their current predicament—including potential shooters at gas stations.

Now Rice, the “conservative,” is doing the same thing. I don’t doubt her relatively high IQ either.

LA replies:

“I never heard him say some of those things….”

What a … ( can’t say it, as VFR is a family website).

I wonder what Rice’s IQ is. I have never heard her say anything that rises above mediocrity. Rice has a confident personality, and that can take you a long way.

James M. writes from England:

During the Watson controversy a high-IQ British Jew called Steven Rose tried to peddle the “all equal” line at the Guardian, attacking the “long-exploded racist claim that “Africans” are inherently less intelligent than “us”’. There was an admirable response in the comments:

“Long-exploded” in your marxoid-Boasian dreams, Rose. You are a dinosaur from Stephen Jay Gould’s corner of Jurassic Park.

The existence of average differences in IQ between mankind’s major races which are substantial and predictable; the fact that IQ measures something real and important; the robustness of the methods used to assay these scores; their persistence, their incorrigibility by human post-natal interventions and social engineering; and their tremendous impact on the collective outcomes for these groups … all are so well established that it is hardly a matter of serious dispute among consenting psychometricians in private any more.

Now it’s just a matter of breaking gently to ordinary people the news that the real deal is what their common sense told them all along. The bromides the PC experts kept stuffing down their throats from c. 1950 were nothing more. Race is back, and it’s bigger than ever. Just rejoice at that news!

Most will shrug their shoulders and say “we knew all along—like dog breeds, isn’t it?” A few gormless liberals will have nerve storms: the Nazis are coming, we must go on lying!

But it’s too late. Now medical genetics are further confirming racial variation in the genotypes of sub-species, including their brains, and enormous policy implications are opening up—which researchers not hag-ridden by Rose’s egalitarian mysticism will certainly not ignore, even if his kind keep the lid on honest debate for a few years longer in the West, censoring and sacking.

We will merely lag behind China, Japan, Russia and India: where science is unshackled by soppiness, and where the very idea of race as “only skin deep” or a “social construct,” of IQ as “culturally biased” and all the other squid ink squirted by Steven, Jacqueline and their dwindling tribe of lefty Luddites is laughed to scorn every day.

Darwin wouldn’t be surprised at the change in the wind that at last has arrived. He might, however, be horrified at how those who profess to teach in his name have suppressed the most important aspect of his theory, in the service of a Platonic falsehood.

Bill in Maryland writes:

Because of “stereotype vulnerability,” we are told, black kids underperform on standardized tests even when the test is anonymous and has no relevance for their futures, as, for example, in the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress, the “Nation’s Report Card”). And it affects not just a few more-sensitive-than-normal individuals, but across the board, as an ineluctable consequence of how blacks as a population internalize their inferior minority status.

There is no reason to think that this phenomenon would disappear with adolescence. In that case, should blacks be allowed to become, for example, surgeons and military officers, situations where they may suddenly have to make complex, life-and-death decisions in a very public, majority-white setting? Wouldn’t such a crisis activate their “stereotype vulnerability,” causing massive performance anxiety, very possibly leading to a bad decision or no decision at all? (I am not advocating such a policy, but simply following Aronson’s idea to its logical conclusion, which he does not do, at least in the video).

If the poor academic performance of blacks is a consequence of “stereotype vulnerability,” what is the justification for affirmative action? Blacks will bring their vulnerability with them to college and continue to underperform. In fact, we might expect their performance to deteriorate even further in a demanding academic environment, away for the first time from whatever support the family and neighborhood provided, and up against whites and Asians with substantially higher test scores. The very act of trying to save them by offering remedial courses simply confirms the inferiority. Thus (Aronson must conclude) affirmative action merely exacerbates the problem it was intended to remedy..

If “stereotype vulnerability” is an artifact of how blacks are regarded by the majority, why is it found as much in majority black areas of the U.S. as in mixed areas? Blacks are 83 percent of the population of Detroit, for example, whites are 12 percent. In the residential areas of the city it must be possible to go for days without seeing a white, other than the occasional mailman or UPS delivery guy. So then, assuming Aronson’s thesis to be true, what produces the vulnerability in these regions, of which lousy test scores are a consequence? It can’t be TV dramas or movies, in which blacks are routinely depicted as doctors, lawyers, judges, scientists or benign general-purpose sources of wisdom (e.g. the Whoopi Goldberg character in Star Trek, or Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones in almost every role). So (one can only conclude) the vulnerability must be an artifact of black culture itself, with its pathological obsession with past oppression, and the inferior status thus implied. But if this is true in Detroit, it must be true everywhere. So the upshot of Aronson’s thesis is that whites can do nothing to improve black academic performance; it is entirely in black hands.

LA replies:

Excellent analysis. This is what conservatives need to do much more of, to analyze what liberals are really saying, showing what their logic consists of and where it leads.

What Bill has brilliantly illustrated here is that black “stereotype vulnerability” is simply another, more acceptable term for low black IQ, since it turns out that “stereotype vulnerability” has exactly the same characteristics, symptoms, persistence, and lack of amenability to improvement as low IQ. It’s like deciding that “Negro,” or “colored,” or “black” are demeaning terms, and calling blacks “African-Americans” instead. But no matter how many times you change their name, they’re the same people.

Bill in Maryland writes:

In the 2000 presidential campaign, George W Bush was embarrassed by his inability to answer a radio commentator’s quiz-type questions (“Who is the president of Pakistan”? etc). According to Joshua Aronson, this generated a “stereotype vulnerability” in Bush, the consequence of which is his current hopeless inarticulateness when called upon to extemporize. Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but the only alternative explanation must be brain damage or premature senility. Check out this remarkable video (from

KPA writes:

Here is a page at Google Books from Rice’s biography by Leslie Montgomery, who writes that she was tested as young girl and found to have a genius IQ.

LA replies:

This is written in such an unintelligent, hagiographic way that it’s unreliable. Montgomery writes:

“Condi was found to be a genius with an extraordinarily high IQ. Both parents knew that they had to build on the intellect that God had graciously given to their daughter.”

By definition a genius has an extraordinarily high IQ, so to call her a “genius with an extraordinarily high IQ” is like writing, “He was a physical giant, well over six feet tall.” More seriously the author doesn’t tell us WHAT this extraordinarily high IQ was. If the author knew enough about Condi’s IQ to know that it was extraordinarily high, she had to know what the IQ was. That she doesn’t tell us the IQ indicates either that she doesn’t know it, but was just told it by Condi or her parents; or that she does know it, and it’s not as high as she’s claiming. The way this is written is pure puffery.

KPA replies:

Yes, I agree with you. This quote that Rice was a “genius with an extraordinarily high IQ” is all over the internet, and I found the source of that quote in this biography.

LA continues:

I don’t know where the line defining genius is, I suppose it’s IQ 150 or 160.

Ok, I just found this:

145-154—Genius (e.g., professors)
155-164—Genius (e.g., Nobel Prize winners)
165-179—High genius
180-200—Highest genius
> 200—“Unmeasurable genius

I wouldn’t have thought of calling someone with a 145 IQ a genius. But even if it’s as low as that, it seems extremely unlikely to me that Rice has an IQ of 145.

Wikipedia’s article on genius puts it variously at an IQ of 180, 162, 140, and 136. The latter two numbers would render all high level students, with SATs in the low 700s (prior to race norming in the mid ’90s), as “geniuses,” which is absurd. Any scale that says that one percent of the population (i.e., people over IQ 135) is a genius is ridiculous.

In any case there no commonly agreed on definition of genius in IQ terms. The only objective term is the IQ number itself, and Condi’s biographer didn’t provide it.

Mark Jaws writes:

Of course, I, the quintessentially politically astute New York Jew (albeit with Slavic blood to taint my Yiddish pedigree), long ago noticed it was primarily left-wing Jews such as Jay Gould, who were the most ardent opponents to Shockley, Jensen, Herrnstein and Murray. I attributed it in part to Jews having been the main victims of the Nazi eugenics movement, so even though these smart Jews probably knew deep down inside that there were IQ differences, it would be best to nullify and pervert the movement which they perceived to be Nazi-like.

Tim W. writes:

Back in my college days a Jewish friend argued that most Jews are left-wing because they perceive Nazism as being right-wing, and fear the traditional culture of the West because it is Christian. Since Jews were often persecuted in the past by Christians, they fear traditional Western civilization.

It’s quite ironic that so many Jews support the environmental and cultural explanations for poor black performance. Jews in the West have been outnumbered far more than blacks in America. Jews were segregated and discriminated against for the better part of 2,000 years. They were the victims of pogroms and even a holocaust. If environment and cultural issues are such overriding factors in intelligence and behavior, then why don’t Jews do poorly on tests? Why don’t young Jews form gangs and roam the streets in thuggish packs? Why aren’t there millions of unwed Jewish women and their multiple offspring receiving welfare benefits?

Most conservative Christians today, including myself, are strong defenders of Israel and have no animosity toward Jews at all. I wish more Jews would realize that and disassociate from the left. The multicultural policies many Jews have championed have contributed to the Islamization of Europe and the rise of militant black churches here in America, which is where today’s anti-Semitism is finding its strength.

Bert R. writes:

The comments of yourself and others here regarding Jewish intellectuals remind me of Kevin MacDonald’s. Is there now a broader range of agreement between you both than before? I ask as I recall that you wrote a somewhat critical article or comment about him some time ago.

LA replies:

Comments like this make me want to throw up my hands.

Kevin MacDonald’s central idea is that the Jewish people are driven by an instinct created by Darwinian evolution to destroy European peoples. He is the most influential anti-Semitic thinker and inspirer of exterminationist anti-Semites of our time. I wonder on what basis you would construct a similarity between my ideas and his based on what was said in this thread.

See my article where I lay out the differences between what MacDonald says about the Jews and what I say.

Jeff in England writes:

You say in reply to reader KPA that “by definition a genius has a high IQ.” Now, I read your comments quickly and I may be missing out on the context of that comment or perhaps you even meant it to mean the opposite of what you were saying (though it doesn’t seem to be the case).

But however you meant it I will say that many “geniuses” do NOT have a very high IQ.

Bob Dylan is one example. He is (or rather once was) definitely a “genius” but he is not known for doing out of the ordinary academically in any sense of the word. It is highly unlikely that he has a high IQ. Probably about average.

In addition, I will repeat what I and others have said: that high IQ may be considered one type of intelligence but is not necessarily to be equated with what I will call “deep” intelligence. Sartre had an extremely high IQ but in many ways was a stupid man. Chris Hitchens the same. Noam Chomsky the same. Ditto many other left wingers.

And that probably is the case with many right wingers too. The likes of David Duke and Kevin Macdonald probably have fairly high IQ’s (I’m guessing here). Ditto Joseph Goebbels (I’m fairly sure about his high IQ). But all are stupid men which many of their views clearly reflect.

Deeply intelligent people usually have fairly intelligent views.They may get it wrong sometimes but not TOO wrong so to speak.

High IQ people are capable of both intelligent and stupid views. They can and will get things very wrong.

These are broad generalisations but I think they broadly hold true.

LA replies:

I agree with your point, that not all people called geniuses have whatever the IQ is that is considered a genius IQ. However, in the quote from Rice’s biography that was being discussed, Rice’s “genius” was specifically made a matter of her having an “extraordinarily high IQ.” So I discussed what is the IQ that is considered to be genius IQ.

Your latter point goes against a straw man and doesn’t need to be discussed. No one contends that high IQ means deep understanding, wisdom, perspective, or even the ability to think logically, let alone moral goodness. All IQ means is the ability to process information.

Also, I doubt very much that Dylan has an average IQ, i.e., no higher than 110.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 29, 2008 11:23 AM | Send

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